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Movie star mistake a lesson to us all

12/09/2017

As a star of the silver screen, Audrey Hepburn has been an icon to generations of fans. While many have copied her inimitable sense of style, you’d be well advised not follow in her footsteps when it comes to making a will.

Her sons have finally settled a legal dispute over how to dispose of her prized possessions more than 24 years after she died.

Margaret Rowe, a Partner in the Wills, Probate and Lifetime Planning team at Shropshire law firm FBC Manby Bowdler, reveals how you can make sure you don’t repeat Audrey’s mistakes:

Hepburn’s handwritten will split her estate 50/50 between her sons when she died in 1993. But in 2015 they became embroiled in a legal row over how to divide her memorabilia such as costumes, scripts and awards. 

That’s now been settled – some will be retained and some sold at auction - but it could have easily been avoided if the movie star had included a list in her will of who should inherit which items.

The star of Breakfast at Tiffany’s isn’t the only one to not get it right though – an alarming 73 per cent of 16 to 54-year-olds don't even have a will, while only 64 per cent of people over the age of 55 have made their final wishes clear in a will. 

Hepburn’s story underlines the importance of making it crystal clear how you want your assets divided. If you have items of sentimental value, jewellery or paintings that you want specific people to inherit, always list who should receive what.

A will properly drafted by a solicitor can ensure that your wishes are carried out to the letter. And it is, of course, important to update your will if any of the beneficiaries die or you change your mind.

When appointing executors, you should be confident that they would carry out your wishes to the letter. If you’re concerned that this may cause a family feud, consider asking a solicitor or friend to take up that role although that could incur a cost.

For more information regards executors, please contact Margaret on 01952 208433 or m.rowe@fbcmb.co.uk

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